Lab Test : Tzanck Smear

Print this page Bookmark and Share
Alternate:Herpes Test
Includes:Microscopic examination of Wright-Giemsa-stained specimen
Department:Pathology, Histopathology Laboratory
Phone:(937) 641-3358
SQ Code:N/A
Available:Mon - Fri, first sift
Turnaround:24 hours
Specimen:Skin scrapings
Container:Glass slide
Temperature:Room temperature, air dried
Rejection:Improper handling, e.g., spray fixing with alcohol.
Uses:To rule out Herpes, multinucleated giant cells.
Limitations:Improperly prepared slides, using a vesicle that is crusted, or not scraping the base of the lesion. Acantholytic cells, which are rounded epidermal cells with large nuclei and scant cytoplasm may be seen on a Tzanck smear. This finding suggests pemphigus vulgaris, an autoimmune blistering disorder. A confirmatory biopsy is necessary when a finding of acantholyic cells is made .

Specimen Preparation:
Label the slides with the patient's name.

Select the lesion site.

Using gloves, cleanse the site with gauze or swab soaked in water.

Incise the top of a vesicle with a sterile scalpel and lightly apply the

specimen to the middle of a glass slide.

Lightly scrape the base of the vesicle and apply the lesion material to the

middle of another glass slide. Smear an area about the size of a dime, i.e.,

just enough to be covered by a No. 1 (22 x 22 mm) cover slip.

Prepare two or more smears if necessary.
Method:Microscopic examination. See "Limitations" below for preparation of sample.

Pediatric Link

Finding the latest trusted child health and safety information doesn't have to be hard. Pediatric Link, Dayton Children's e-newsletter offers timely and up-to-date information for health care professionals from the experts you trust at Dayton Children's.

Sign up

The Right Experts

Just right for all kids


The Children's Medical Center of Dayton Dayton Children's
The Right Care for the Right Reasons

One Children's Plaza - Dayton, Ohio - 45404-1815